Like the scarecrow without a brain, this year’s Oz-themed San Diego County Fair had individually cataloged hundreds of lost and found items. The most unusual lost item? “A gold grill with diamonds in it,” said a fair security officer (a overlay for one’s teeth, popular with rappers). “Someone also left their Lyft motorized handicapped scooter.”
182 found cell phones were turned in. 90% were returned to their owners. But 153 were reported lost, and only 10% were found.
Additionally left behind, 138 wallets and purses, 132 credit cards, 89 set of keys, 69 drivers’ licenses or ID’s, and three strollers.
1,531,199 fairgoers skipped down the yellow brick road over the fair’s 27-day run, a decrease of 4.9% over the record-breaking year in 2016. The E-coli health scare in farm animals probably accounted for much of the decrease.
50,000 ears! That’s how many bar-b-qued corncobs Bob served at his Bob’s Cobs stand, a fair vendor on the midway for the last 46 years. He was the first to sell grill-roasted corn at the fair. Now there are five others.
Wanting to offer the freshest corn, “I know all of my farmers and their picking schedules,” said Bob. He even tracked each day it rained prior to the fair, which would delay the farmer’s harvest dates.
“Some of these guys [with other booths] don’t even know how long it takes to grow corn,” said Bob. “I’m old school.”
Bob has another claim to fair fame . . . in 1984; he gave Chicken Charlie, now famous for deep-fried everything, his name. Charlie used to work for Bob. “At first he didn’t like the name,” Bob said. “When people started calling him that, he said it sounded okay. It stuck.”
Chicken Charlie’s introduced 8,000 deep-fried balls of crème brulée and 2,000 Buffalo Chicken Chimichangas, new fried foods to fairgoers this year. Charlie said he used “truckloads” of oil, “We changed our oil every night,” he said.
The Original Cardiff Crack tri-tip sandwiches were offered for the first time at the fair. Cardiff by the Sea’s Seaside Market sold over 5,000 of the well-known coastal treat.
The Wicked Wahine speakeasy, a secret rooftop bar, almost doubled in attendance this year. Free admission to the secret location could be had by asking for a special pass at a few of the fair’s bars. The tiki-style lounge offered a nighttime hideaway, overlooking the racetrack, Kiddieland rides, and lights of traffic on I-5.
The most ridden rides at the fair? The Sky Ride – a ski mountain-style chair lift over the fairgrounds, the big Ferris wheel, and the Crazy Mouse roller coaster.
No sooner than the close of the fair at midnight, on July 5, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club began setting up for its 45-day meet, opening on July 17.